Prescott College draws in and brings forth people with the most amazing stories and accomplishments! So meet some of them here and take a peek at what they are doing out in the world and what inspiring stories they tell.
After finishing his B.A. at Prescott College, Colin worked as a Crop Curator at Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson, and Patagonia, Arizona, and as a biologist in an environmental consulting firm in San Diego, California.
He then went on to complete his Masters in 'Conservation and Utilisation of Plant Genetic Resources' at the University of Birmingham, UK. This experience opened the opportunity to work in Rome within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, for the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Colin is currently working on a new Trust project, while pursuing a Ph.D. with Wageningen University (The Netherlands), conducting research at CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture, based in Colombia) on the conservation of the wild relatives of crops.
Angie is currently co-owner of a 400 member CSA farm, Mountain Bounty Farm, and also runs a side flower business, The Flower Project, which grows specialty cut flowers for the CSA, farmers markets and weddings. Angie and her husband, John, run an internship program within which they have had the opportunity to teach and mentor dozens of upcoming farmers, many of whom have gone on to start their own farms. Four years ago, Angie started a new farmers market in their town Nevada City. The market showcases a wide range of small, local farms in the area.
My activities are shaped by two interrelated goals. The first is exploratory, an attempt to understand and communicate the elegance and raw vitality of humanity, while the second has been situated in practice, an effort to promote an equitable relationship with the land.
Since I graduated from Prescott College, this process has materialized in various ways. As a writer and communicator, I investigated political violence and worked with a group of kids to publish a book about life on the streets in Zimbabwe, documented the role of land degradation and water scarcity in East Africa, and interpreted ethnic reconciliation in post-conflict Kosovo. In 2009, as a Young Explorer of the National Geographic Society, I walked along the Ewaso Nyiro River that flows into the arid cultural-ecological landscapes of Northern Kenya to explore the borderlands of confrontation between culture, wildlife, and wider globalizing forces. I am currently writing a book about this issue.
As a conservationist, I have worked on land management and wildlife issues in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Uganda, and Kenya. Some of these experiences include being the field manager for a conservation area, promoting income-generation through the sustainable harvest and sale of honey and wild plants, integrating traditional livestock management practices into wildlife conservation activities, and monitoring the movements and behavior of elephants to aid landscape-scale conservation planning.
Currently, I am working towards my MSc in Conservation and Management at the University of Oxford.
Providing sustainable work for artisans that I know has become my passion. When people are trying to help themselves, it is exciting to adopt the mission of spreading Fair Trade. The artisans with whom I work do not want a handout; they want customers. Our Fair Trade group – we call it A FAIR WORLD- helps a number of artisans in Uganda, Thailand, and Bhutan who are striving to break the barriers that have held generations of their families in poverty. The hardship barrier is as simple as not having enough work to make a living. When Recycled Paper Jewelry arrives in roughly packed boxes from the artisans of Uganda, volunteers help to sell the jewelry of the craftspeople to individuals through home parties, in gift shops, female clothing boutiques, college bookstores, natural food stores, and museum shops. The artisans are paid well above the Uganda minimum wage, a Fair Trade wage, and a safe work environment is emphasized
With the economic downturn that has stifled some consumer spending, it is more difficult for people climbing out of poverty to continue building their lives. Sending their children to school and paying for health and home needs has become harder for the artisans. Some artisans have faced a devastating plunge back into poverty. There are 2.7 billion people in the world - about six times the number of people living in the United States - who earn less than $2 a day. That’s a challenge for us all. The economic challenge of these times makes the practice of the Fair Trade Business Model even more critical in order for the artisans to get their fair share. This motivates me every day.
The fact is that there are large numbers of “conscious consumers” who care to buy “ethically-sourced” goods rather than products made under questionable working circumstances. The proof of this is that Fair Trade stores and sales have been growing in this country, as well as in Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia, over the last forty years. Last year, for example, according to the Fair Trade Foundation in England, $4.12 billion Fair Trade products were bought in 2008. During a recessionary time, people still buy some things and still spend some money. We just want people to think about what they spend and realize that their money is their power and they can make a statement for good and for A FAIR WORLD even during times when we spend less. We promote that buying Fair Trade goods is even more important now than during normal economic times. Holiday seasons and gift giving times are among the perfect times to remember those people in poverty and support them. For more information, contact Linda at Linda@afairworlddesigns.com.
Jessica Williams ’08 of Tucson was awarded a Campus Ecology Fellowship by the National Wildlife Federation to support work on college campuses confronting global warming.
Jessica used the Fellowship to focus on reducing carbon emissions by cutting down on the distance food travels before reaching the consumer. She worked to promote farmers’ markets on college campuses across the country and advocated for local food consumption amongst the college population. “I am currently in the process of writing a Best Practices Protocol for starting a campus farmers’ market with Gale Welter, the coordinator of the farmers’ market through the University of Arizona in Tucson’s Campus Health Department,” Jessica said of her project. “We plan on distributing this protocol to campuses around the country who are interested.”
Lee Stuart ’75 has stood on the front lines of climate research, fighting forest fires, feeding the hungry, and housing the homeless. She’s chosen the twists and turns of her journey, continually learning from mentors along the way and staying true to an internal compass that has rarely steered her wrong.
The first turn in her journey was the decision to attend Prescott College. Lee had applied for early admission to the University of Rochester to study chemistry. Lee’s aunt was the first pediatric cardiologist in Arizona and had been treating the infant child of a biology professor at the College. Her aunt invited her out to Arizona for Thanksgiving and suggested a trip to Prescott College, as “it might be more interesting.” It was.
In those days it was the admissions office’s practice to have prospective students spend the night in the dorms to get a feel for campus. Unfortunately, all the women in the dorm Lee was assigned to were out on a fieldtrip in the Grand Canyon. “I was totally alone in the suite and feeling very lonely, and it was kind of creepy, actually.” She heard a knock at the door.
She opened up to find a student, Jeff Schwartz, whom she had met earlier in the day as her campus tour guide, and a bunch of his friends holding packages. They knew she was alone and had decided to share their holiday care packages from home with her for “an early Thanksgiving.” Lee made the decision in that moment to attend Prescott College. “It still chokes me up to this day to tell that story. I couldn’t believe that there could be a place where the kindness and welcome and recognition of community were right up front like that.”
Early on Lee took chemistry, environmental studies, and a lot of math. It wasn’t until she received her first-year chemistry final exam that she realized how different this place really was. Professor Bob Harrill included a diagram of the atomic absorption spectrum of the atmosphere and the graph from Mauna Loa showing increasing atmospheric CO2 and posed the question: “What are the implications for the earth?” At first, she had no idea how to answer that or any of the similar questions on the test. She and a study partner, Marv Barstow, went to work in the library and over the course of the week read about the greenhouse effect, the role of ethylene in fruit ripening, creating the molecular structure of organic compounds from spectral analysis, and other phenomena included in the exam questions, all of which were far beyond elementary chemistry.
When they went to turn in the exam, very happy with their work, they nonetheless asked the professor whey none of the questions had been covered in the course. Bob’s response was, “I expect you to know what I taught in class. What I want to know is how far you can take it.” That was a game-changer. She began to realize that education wasn’t so much, “What do you know?” but “How far can you go?”
During her first summer at school Lee and fellow classmate Chris Griffin became charter members and the first women to join the Prescott Fire Crew (made up entirely of Prescott College students). It was the year of the Battle Fire. She and the crew worked 40 of the first 48 hours on the front lines, making a name for themselves, and had many more adventures besides. In the second summer they were joined by students from St. John’s College in Santa Fe and the crew became known as the Prescott Hotshots. Lee wanted a future in the Forest Service, but knew it wouldn’t be manual labor on a fire crew, so she sought out other opportunities through her Senior Project.
She was offered a position at the US Forest Service Fire Laboratory in Riverside, Calif. where she worked for eight months on reconstructing the vegetation map for an area that had burned in the Santa Monica Mountains in order to test a mathematical model of how forest fires spread. This type of work combined her love of math and biology, and she got to spend time outdoors. It was the perfect combination that eventually lead to her graduate work.
Lee was a bit scared to attend graduate school. Prescott College had not been a traditional education and she wasn’t sure how she would fare with a more formal and structured program. Her plan was to fly under the radar at San Diego State, especially to fly under the radar of Phillip C. Miller who had written the chapters in one of her undergraduate texts about mathematical modeling that inspired her to go to SDSU to begin with. As luck would have it, Phil handpicked Lee to be his graduate student during the admissions process. Apparently, when Phil was a graduate student, one of his assignments had been to help develop environmental studies curriculum for a new college in Arizona. He wanted to see what kind of student Prescott College had ended up turning out.
Lee and Phil hit it off and together with other students, post-docs and professors organized as the Systems Ecology Research Group, they had a really great run spending summers in Alaska and then the academic terms in San Diego or Chile working on mathematical models of the plant physiology and physical environment of tundra and Mediterranean ecosystem. Although primitive, some of their models indicated global warming would most likely create a compounding source for atmospheric carbon as permafrost thawed and decomposed. “Unfortunately we were correct about that,” she says.
When Phil died during the last year of her Ph.D. program, Lee’s life took another turn.
“My mother had always said when you’re feeling sad or sorry for yourself, go do something for somebody else and get over it.” She volunteered for a UNICEF fundraiser and with people she met there, also volunteered with the Ecumenical Coalition of Concerned Americans (ECCA) in the Los Angeles area. ECCA operated a food distribution/assistance program where they bought directly from the farmers and growers and then packed it and distributed it through other organizations.
She was inspired, but knew there was a better way to coordinate it. Armed with a renewed passion for fighting poverty (which began in her childhood in Appalachia) and some better logistics in mind, Lee returned to San Diego and helped form Self Help and Resources Exchange (SHARE), which functioned basically like ECCA.
SHARE was just getting off the ground when she went to Virginia Tech to do post graduate work. Although she loved her work, Lee realized root physiology, mathematical modeling and endless hours in a laboratory were only part of life, and looked for other ways to be involved in the community. Early on she met the head of New River Valley Community Action, and worked with that organization as a volunteer to reproduce the SHARE program for Southwest Virginia. One thing led to another, and following a propitious meeting of the minds between one of the other co-founders of SHARE in San Diego, a wealthy investor, and a Trappist abbot, the idea to start SHARE in the South Bronx took form. They asked Lee to head the new venture and she left Virginia for the Bronx, arriving March 11, 1985.
To give an idea of the utterly rundown and neglected state of the South Bronx at the time, Lee recalls her second week on the job when a film crew from Germany came through to shoot footage that could double for the destruction after the bombing of Dresden during World War II. It was a community in need of many things and within a year 250 churches had joined SHARE and 10,000 families participated in the program every month.
In 1986 a man came to see Lee at work. Jim Drake had been Ceasar Chavez’s national director of organizing during the grape boycott that brought the United Farm Workers their first contract. He asked Lee, “Aren’t you worried about teaching dependence?” She was perplexed. He explained that by doing so much for people without building any structures or opportunities for them to make their own decisions or be involved in the solutions, that she was likely perpetuating the worst form of poverty – learned dependence. This was another game-changing conversation for her.
Jim was in the Bronx as a national organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation and was working with local pastors to organize South Bronx Churches (SBC), a broad-based, multi-issue organization with sufficient power to bring real change to the neighborhood. “I was in the presence of a truly giant organizer and knew right then that I wanted to work with this guy. He had an effective way of thinking about the forces that created power and injustice and a plan to really turn the tables on those systems. He challenged and inspired me.” Jim went on to help Lee understand how to build an organization with local leadership and how to navigate and build grassroots power that could tackle and win against far larger adversaries: local hospitals, and New York City’s housing and educational systems. Eventually, she followed Jim as the lead organizer of South Bronx Churches, undertaking two big projects during her tenure there.
South Bronx Churches’ Nehemiah Project built 966 single- and two-family homes and condos for first-time homeowners living in the South Bronx, most making between $25,000 and $30,000 a year and living either in public housing or low-quality rentals. The project was funded by a $3.5 million revolving loan from Catholic religious orders, the national Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Trinity and St. James Episcopal Churches. The City of New York provided vacant land and a $15,000 per unit subsidy to bring costs even lower, and over ten years SBC rebuilt a large portion of the Melrose and Mott Haven sections of the Bronx. What had been vacant and abandoned for three decades is now a thriving multicultural community with very low crime, a foreclosure rate less than 1.5%, and equity held by South Bronx families themselves.
Lee also helped create of the Bronx Leadership Academy High School. “The whole school system in the Bronx was set up for failure at the time,” she says. “Kids were expected to bring their own toilet paper to school, and one principal at an elementary school even made the children eat lunch off the floor because the janitor’s union said it was easier that way.” Jim had taught Lee to start small, so with South Bronx Churches leaders whose children attended that school, they approached the New York City Board of Education first about children eating off the floor – a pretty easy win. Over time, and with lots of pressure, South Bronx Churches negotiated with the Board and with the support of the Bronx Superintendent of High Schools, built “a new kind of high school.”
Using the rules and regulations of the education system of New York State and New York City, South Bronx Church maximized as many resources at they could including the number of square feet and instructors per child. The experience helped promote policy change at the Board of Education, which has created more and more small schools over the years.
Following a pattern of some sort, her mentor in organizing, Jim Drake, died and she decided to move on to a different chapter in her life. She finished the Nehemiah project and sought purpose at several other organizations, working on adult education, international development and, for a brief time, parks advocacy. When the options in New York felt too limited for her anymore, she put her resume out to many places doing community development, and landed a job with the Duluth, Minn., branch of the Local Initiatives Support Corporatin (LISC), She gave practically everything she had to Mexican families she had worked with at SBC, and hopped in her Subaru to start anew.
“Duluth is great!,” she says, explaining it's very liberal, but also very white – something she wasn’t used to after 24 years in the Bronx. “The disparities between Native and African American and white are extreme here.”
She worked for two years re-doing neighborhood plans and the like, but it wasn’t quite as active as she wanted to be. When the director position at an organization called Churches United in Ministry (CHUM) opened up in Duluth, she was encouraged to apply by its outgoing leader as well as others in the community. CHUM was about to build a 44-unit apartment building for permanent supportive housing for families with children who had experienced long-term or recurrent homelessness, so they wanted someone who knew their way around a construction project. They were also appreciative of the fact that Lee had worked in an ecumenical, interfaith organization for a long time.
She’s been with CHUM for two years and finds herself learning more every day. Mostly she’s learning how to run an organization that provides direct service. CHUM’s mission is “People of faith, working together to provide basic necessities, foster stable lives and organize for a just and compassionate community.” As such, it runs Duluth’s largest emergency shelter for homeless individuals and families and provides the basic social safety net for Duluth’s poorest of the poor. “This is my first experience dealing with people that have been thrown away by our society. In the Bronx, the place was the apparent throwaway, not the people.” She explains that for the most part, the people who populated the Bronx were long-time residents who had survived the destruction of the neighborhood or immigrants who saw themselves as valiant survivors coming from terrible places around the world to make a better life in the United States.
The people Lee sees coming to CHUM Shelter have been failed by the systems and culture around them, with more than half showing clear signs of mental illness. She’s beginning to advocate for safe and secure housing for people with severe mental illness so they can get out of the shelter, jail, hospital, street cycle. The new apartments are now open, and by the end of March 2015, 44 families will be in residence. “The best part for me,” Lee says, is the pregnant moms who are moving in. “They’ve been homeless for over a year, or at least three or four times in the last few years – and now, their baby is going to be born NOT homeless. That’s wonderful.”
Lee has a profound understanding of the position of privilege she comes from. “I’ve been able to do the things I’ve done because of the investment that was made in me by institutions and my family. They were all betting for my success. That’s no longer happening to young people, particularly people of color. The bet is against them.
“I have great pride in my work, but I’m also driven by the humility of the position of privilege I came from. The baby that’s born into a family that can’t take care of it, that’s its bad luck. It has nothing to do with the value of that baby or the value of that mom or dad. I want to build a society where luck has less to do with it. Social justice is taking the luck out of the equation. Taking the privilege out of it.
“That’s what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. Creating places where people can have a chance, where babies can be safe, where parents can be held in the secure embrace of a community that loves them and honors them; where life is second chances, and third and fourth; where gifts are recognized, where schools nurture the full development of children, where cultures are honored, where we respect the elders, where health is not based on your zip code or your skin color or your income. That kind of thing.
“Years ago when I was a student at Prescott College, Willi Unsoeld gave a graduation speech where he told us to dream big for our lives – not something simple like what he had done, being the first American on Everest. He told us to spend our life on something big. He suggested that we humanize bureaucracy. It was meant to draw a laugh, but pretty much since then, I’ve been following his advice.”
Melanie is currently the head farmer at a community farm called Land's Sake, in Weston, MA. The farm is a diversified vegetable and PYO berry farm growing on 22 acres (usually leaving 4-5 acres resting in cover crops). The farm supports a 130 share CSA, a well-established farm stand (the majority of the revenue is generated there) a beautiful PYO flower garden, and it contracts with the local town to donate $25,000 (at wholesale costs) worth of veggies to local food pantries and food access programs in nearby Boston.
I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to work for a local non-profit educational organization, the Highlands Center for Natural History, whose methods and mission I endorse wholeheartedly. I am now their education director and am responsible for programs that serve close to 8,000 children and adults each year. I continue to learn. I am inspired by knowing that this small community of staff and docents with whom I work is one of those that can indeed change the world, one child at a time. When I see the expressions in the children's eyes change from fear of creepy-crawlies to affection for them in a period of just a few hours out on our nature center sites, I know I'm doing the right work. My four years at Prescott College were some of the best in my life. Prescott College opened my eyes wide to the endless possibilities of life and the wonder of it all. I developed an enormous appreciation for why we think and behave the way we do in our western civilization. I learned about my place, my role in history. I truly realize the value of educating toward a sense of place, learning about "home" and yet understanding how the bigger systems shape our environment and us.
Advice to students: Believe in yourself and trust the process at Prescott College. Picture yourself doing what you dream of accomplishing, and keep that picture beside you. It's not all wine and roses, for sure, but that image you have of the future is what will move you forward, step by step. Work hard. Give it all you've got. It is a privilege to be part of this school. Don't take any of it for granted.
Although a college instructor for over 15 years, Katherine Minott has another dimension to her life that is equally challenging and rewarding -- the making of fine art photography. With her abstract style, she explores the beauty hidden in everyday objects, the sacred hidden in the mundane.
Minott is infatuated with inanimate objects long past their prime. Why? Peeling paint, wrinkled, tattered cloth, and rusted steel teach us about transience. And they impart three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Minott celebrates these teachings in her photographic images which reflect the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi (an intuitive way of living that emphasizes finding beauty in imperfection, and accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay).
The images here are her celebration of authentic change and homage to her teachers of transience.
These teachers are found in classrooms disguised as junkyards, abandoned ranches, hoarders’ backyards, and long-forgotten trailer parks—all scattered about the desert Southwest where the sun works its magic. It is here that Minott photographs the patinas on 50-gallon barrels and water tanks, and discovers the hidden life of rust on the backside of discarded paint cans. This is how her abstract photographs are born.
My journey to Prescott College began at birth, but I suppose this story can begin three-years before attending. After graduating from high school, I decided not to follow the cultural constructions of normalized behavior in terms of going straight to college after 12th grade. I wanted to understand if we are truly stronger, braver, and more intelligent than we could ever know?
After leaving high school, I explored this country, that country, another country, helping to repair bomb shelters, singing songs, speaking different languages, understanding what “indigenous” really means, dancing, sharing great food, exploring dense forests, feeling the energy of cities, meeting amazing people, and interconnecting the stories of who I was, with who I became.
As time went by, I became a rock climbing guide and felt that my job was more than just helping people tie into a rope. Essentially, I was facilitating their experience of meeting fathomless fear, doubt, insecurity, and understanding the words “I Can”. During that time I also began studying the learning process and read many books pertaining to education and developing, for myself, an authentic pedagogy that focused upon the whole human being, rather than just the left hemisphere of our brain. Thus, I began searching for a college that did the same.
To lead out
One must understand that my search had little to do with wondering about large endowments, the number of fraternities, or how many past and present senators have attended. Fundamentally, a great school means great people; not swimming pools or multiple dining halls; huge libraries with every book ever written, or so-called “prestige”. If the etymological definition of education is “to lead out,” does the question of attendance become more about “what” leads us out, or rather, “who” helps us to see the world like we never have before?
Upon graduating from Prescott College, I was turned inside-out. I felt fully prepared to meet the unknown with deep respect and unfurled gratitude. To me, Prescott College helped me see myself for who I am, and who I can become. This meant creating a degree in Integrative Learning, which resulted in studying fear, potential, human development, liberatory education, and the learning process; being a team member on an 800 mile horse-packing expedition; sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez; completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training; living in Central America; working at various schools, and among many other experiences.
Fellowship at the Center for Inspired Teaching
Currently, I work with the Center for Inspired Teaching in Washington D.C. Our mission is to revolutionize education through innovative teacher training, curriculum development, and compassionate pedagogical practices. Essentially, Prescott College opened me up to myself, and for this, I will be forever grateful.
Enjoy the journey,
For her Masters in Soils and Biogeochemistry, Taryn is working on improving nutrient use efficiency and reducing environmental impacts of food production. Her graduate studies at UC Davis are centered around climate change and agriculture. Specifically, her research address how improved agricultural techniques such as reduced tillage, drip irrigation and cover cropping affect nitrous oxide emissions in tomato cropping systems. After completing her masters, she hopes to continue in agricultural education and outreach, bringing together information and people so that research is not isolated from those who can use it.
Steven Mirsky is a Research Ecologist for the USDA-ARS in the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, USDA-ARS-BARC Beltsville, Maryland. He conducts agro-ecological research in organic and sustainable cropping systems. His research focuses on evaluating cropping system sustainability including agronomic and environmental criteria. Steven conducts research on evaluating the multifunctional role of cover crops (weed control and Nitrogen scavenging and fertility) and their integration into agroecosystems for soil, crop, and weed management. Steven received his M.S. and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University.
My master’s degree project at Prescott College titled “Educating for a Sense of Place: The Power of Place-Based Environmental Education” with an appendix titled “Walking Mountains Learning Center” was a launching point for the nonprofit organization I founded in 1998: Walking Mountains Science Center (formerly Gore Range Natural Science School) in Colorado. Our mission at Walking Mountains is “to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education.”
Over the years I have worked to establish a continuing relationship with Prescott College. Walking Mountains Science Center has a graduate fellowship in environmental education where students earn 15 credits toward their MAP degree. I was also fortunate to be involved in the early development of Prescott’s Ph.D. Program in Sustainability Education as the interim program coordinator.
My passion to further understand the human-nature relationship led me to study the human dimensions of climate change for my Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England. This interdisciplinary research involved environmental phenomenology and investigating the lived-experiences of 20 climate change ecologists who conduct place-based ecological research in mountains of the American West.
In Colorado, I helped develop the curriculum for the Bachelor of Arts Program in Sustainability Studies at Colorado Mountain College where I teach: Systems Thinking for Sustainability; Leadership, Ethics & Social Responsibility; Fostering Sustainable Behaviors (Conservation Psychology); and Social Entrepreneurship. I served as the first Colorado Program Director for the National Forest Foundation where I was involved in coordinating the collaborative ecological restoration of the Upper South Platte Watershed which provides water for Denver and other cities along the Front Range of Colorado. And in 2012 I was awarded a fellowship with the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University to pursue research in conservation leadership.
My experience at Prescott College gave me the scholarly and theoretical background I needed as an environmental educator, but it also gave me the confidence and vision to create positive change and face my fears of the unknown. Maybe even more importantly, I continue to draw upon the Prescott College student-centered learning philosophy to empower many other young people—undergraduates, interns, and graduate students--to pursue their own passions and visions for creating positive change through environmental education, stewardship and sustainability.
Rough and cool, sharp and round, veined with mauve and gold. Leaves and botanical fragments, coiling and merging with the limbs of pensive females.
On viewing the textures and colors weaving through Raina Gentry’s sensual artworks, it’s no surprise to learn that she carries a degree in Environmental Philosophy from Prescott College, where she also taught rock climbing from 1996 to 2000. One feels the years of close observation of the natural world – and of the places where the human mind and heart meet in nature.
Born and raised in Southern California, Raina moved to Arizona to attend Prescott College, staying on as an outdoor guide for several adventure companies in the state and to teach rock climbing courses.
Raina’s “organic” approach to art making incorporating printmaking, life drawing, collage, and painting, is “heavily influenced by her education at Prescott College.”
“Each canvas is a playground for the psyche,” she says, “evolving naturally and intuitively without structure or expectation about the final outcome, with the meaning of the works revealed often many years later.”
Complex layering of media and symbology with a focus on the human form taps into and expresses universal themes “that many people can identify with,” she said.
Raina uses digital media to recycle images from one artwork to another the way elements are recycled in an ecosystem, and the way we recycle aspects of our own psyches. Artistic influences evident in her work include Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Georgia O'Keeffe, Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Gaugin, and contemporaries Barbara Rogers, Deborah Donelson, Dae Rebeck, Joe Sorren, Kim Goldfarb, and Gwyneth Scally, to name a few.
Her artwork can be found in Arizona at the Jerome Artist Cooperative Gallery in Jerome, at Bohemia In the Lost Barrio in Tucson, the Page Springs Cellars Wine Tasting Room in Cornville, the Arizona Handmade Gallery in Flagstaff, and Arts Prescott artist’s cooperative on Whiskey Row in Prescott, Ariz.
I have been a social activist all my adult life. Since I started the Primavera School in 1972, my work has revolved around making the world a better place for children. In the arenas of early childhood education, child development, family support, and child abuse prevention I try to inspire others to do what is best for children and their parents.
In 1996 I started my second non-profit, a statewide advocacy and training organization. I enjoy influencing public policy, developing good community-based programs and producing high-quality training opportunities for folks who are working in their own communities on behalf of children and families.
I trace my activism right back to Prescott College. My experience there removed any doubts I might have held about whether or not I wanted to be a change agent. Indeed, it made a reluctant leader out of me. Because of the people I met at Prescott College, I began to see the world as full of opportunities for constructive change. I learned to question, to value my instincts, and to ask a lot of others and myself in the service of doing what the world is calling for.
Advice for students: "Never doubt a small group of people can change the world; indeed, that is all that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Shanti is living just outside of Prescott, AZ growing 8 acres of vegetables, flowers and dry beans with her husband and family. She and her husband, Cory, have an 80 family CSA, sell at 3 farmers markets and a few local restaurants. They are involved with agricultural education through a seasonal farm internship program and class field trips of all ages. In addition, Shanti has taught a few courses at Prescott College. She “still loves growing food more than anything and is so grateful to be spending her life farming (and raising kids too).”
The diverse educational experience I received at Prescott College almost 28 years ago evolved into a multi-faceted career which has been, to coin a 60s phrase, "one long, fantastic trip."
After leaving Prescott in 1974, I worked in a variety of professions including being the first (female) 20-year-old New York City taxi cab driver, playing in a rock'n roll group and joining a construction crew. In 1990 I began working with the Central Park Historical Society creating curricula for their Leadership Program and conducting tours of Central Park, the Museum of Natural History and my art studio in NYC for special education students. During that time I led classes in recycling, helped rehabilitate injured birds and directed workshops for public school teachers at NYU.
My work shifted in 1991 as I explored the environmental link to disease, having become a new member of the cancer club. My investigation into the medical/cancer industry yielded disturbing results. "We're practicing politics without principle, science without humanity and medicine without logic," was my motto. With my direct visuals, speak-outs, demonstrations and articles I helped bring attention to the 'silent epidemic' and to cancer prevention, and I became an advocate for alternative treatments. My alliance with Greenpeace, Wac, Wham and 1 in 9 (to name a few grassroots groups) inspired numerous works that received extensive exhibition and press coverage, in addition to many awards and proclamations.
From 1994-1997 I received the Rachel Carson Award, the best Environmental Poster Award, Humanitarian of the Year Award, Person of the Week (Peter Jennings worldwide news) and the Gilda Radner Award. One of my pictures was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and received six gold and silver prizes from design and newspaper competitions, including a front page award from the Newswomen's Club of New York. In 1996 I produced an award-winning catalog with a grant from the New York Foundation of the Arts. Many of my pictures, articles, essays and interviews have been published in a variety of venues from Glamour magazine and Encyclopedia Britannica to documentaries and made for TV films.
My advocacy has its roots in Prescott College, beginning with the endangered red tail hawk, which provided both a metamorphic and metaphoric approach to my pursuits. In 1974 I witnessed one student's determination to protect his pet hawk and subsequent heartbreak when the captive flew away. Ironically, when I returned east a month later I was confronted by my father's trophy: a stuffed red tail sat on top his television set! I realized then that education is the most powerful tool we have to inform the public.
Years later I was fortunate to watch a bird I rescued set free in Central Park after six months of rehab . . . Its flight to freedom set a pace for putting my dreams and thoughts to use. If a person is determined and committed to something she believes in, she can fly free, dream and soar to record heights. The trick though, is returning to earth with aspirations that can help advance society through personal contribution and commitment.
Advice for students:
- When you want to do something that you know in your heart is right, don't take no for an answer.
- Experience: get as much of it as possible.
- Examine how others have approached projects you wish to explore - then do it differently. Be original.
- Embrace diversity, but don't conform. Adjust when necessary but always stay true to your truth and vision.
- Always make time to dream.
Do things that make you happy.
After receiving my master's degree, I gained invaluable knowledge and experience working as a park ranger and interpretive naturalist at Canyonlands National Park. I returned to Prescott College in 1978 to help administer a Youth Conservation Corps program and also assumed the responsibilities of teaching in the Environmental Studies program, where I designed the program emphasis in environmental education.
During the past 20 years I have worked on numerous environmental issues, including the 1984 and 1990 Arizona Wilderness Bills. In 1990 I was co-recipient of the National Wilderness Education Award sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the Isaac Walton League. During the fall of 1991, I spent my sabbatical in Norway teaching at Olavskolen Folkehogskole. In 1994 I received the Educator of the Year Award and the President's Appreciation Award from the Arizona Association for Learning in and About the Environment (AALE). In 1996 I was the guest professor at Telemark College, where I instructed in Norway's first interdisciplinary environmental studies program.
Since 1992 I've been performing John Muir under contract with the Arizona Humanities Council. In May of 1998, I received an award for Outstanding Presenter at the National Wilderness Rangers Conference. I have always held a deep regard for nature and reverence for life.
The friends I made, and the landscapes and diversity of cultures I have experienced as a result of Prescott College, both as a student and an instructor have given me lifelong inspiration and passion for my work.
Advice for students: Examine and challenge your beliefs and try to live out your convictions. The world is full of wonder and opportunities to learn. Ask yourself if you are giving back as much as you are taking from the gift of life.
As an undergraduate student, I became involved with a local non-profit organization called Prescott Creeks Preservation Association (PCPA). Since then I've been a general volunteer for PCPA, served as the president for two years and was hired as the first Watson Woods Riparian Preserve manager in 1999.
In addition to my work with PCPA, I'm a partner in Riparia, Inc., a Prescott-based ecological consulting firm. With Riparia, I've had the opportunity to conduct riparian restoration, education and research projects throughout Arizona. I try to find time for the fun jobs too. For the past two years, I've spent untold hours crawling around the banks of the Verde River counting willow and cottonwood sprouts. And they pay me for it!?! All in all, my career has just fallen into place. I have been blessed with my opportunities and the great friends I have in Prescott. I currently live just south of Prescott with my best friend, Osito. I came to Prescott College from one of the largest universities in the country. The small, intimate setting at Prescott College taught me that I could get to know my mentors and instructors on a personal level. One of those relationships led me to the work I'm now doing. I also learned how to be creative with my livelihood.
Advice to students: Decide what you want to do. Deciding seems to be the hardest part for most people. Find something you can get your hands around and then put every ounce of passion into it. It's worked for me so far.
As a Community General Manager for a development company in Pennsylvania, Erin Conlen worked with developers and builders to design sustainable, or “green” structures.
“Protection of nature and habitat were always dear to my heart, which some would see as a conflict with my job [in construction]. Most people think you are on one side or the other; environmentalist or builder. I say, why not be in the middle?
“Through my studies [in the ADP program] I continually research ideas that will enhance what I bring to the table in construction, trying to offer acceptable solutions to both sides. The impact I make may be a small one, but in the end, it benefits everyone around me.”
“I’m often approached with a puzzling question – what is a woman doing in construction? I have found this is actually where I can make the largest contribution to the progress of sustainability.”